Resist! What is it good for? Absolutely everything. Saturday evening it was great for a poetry reading and art show that captured the essence of what Resist! looks like: committed, diverse, unrestrained. That was Saturday night’s "Alternative Facts: People of Color Living in White Tides" at CIELO Gallery in South Central Los Angeles.
The event, organized by Luivette Resto and Lilly Flor del Valle, burned a bright candle for a few hours then at the witching hour, expired leaving not a rack behind. Such stuff as dreams are made on. The enormous volume of energy and labor devoted to those few enchanted hours illustrate commitment in its most personal form, time.
|Lilly Flor del Valle|
Luivette and Lilly Flor, who have day jobs and kids, carved out hours to talk about what, how, when, who, details and ideas. The team put out calls for artists and poets. Designed the show and curated the submissions, designed the catalog. The day before, they hung the art show. Early Saturday they laid out vittles, dotted the last “i”, then waited to see if anyone would turn up. It was a solid house and ¡que lástima! that you missed it.
CIELO Galleries/Studios demonstrates a second form of commitment: money and space. Gallerist Skira Martínez lives in the gallery, so she is opening her home to art, poetry, and gente. The crowd for “Alternative Facts” was well-behaved and only a few had departed before The Bloody Gypsys’ final pounding chord closed the evening. It is encouraging that people came to be part of it.
|F. Douglas Brown|
That Skira Martínez made her space available at no charge to the organizers (nor did the gallery claim a share of art sales) reflects the non-alternative fact of commitment found in CIELO Galleries/Studios’ self-description as “a multifunctional/multifaceted art space/home in South Central LA that is whatever it needs to be at any given time.” Poetry of resistance was what needed to be this evening.
The nondescript structure sits at a nondescript intersection in a nondescript section of Los Angeles. 3201 Maple Ave, LA 90011. Residential property built close to the curb. Storefront rows for mom and pop entrepreneurship. All of them struggling. Many blocks have looming industrial buildings with wide empty parking lots behind severe fencing. Cars cluster bumper to bumper along the curbs for residents. There is a pulse of life in the streets that teem with young men hanging out. Families pack tiny front patios on rickety furniture surrounded by macetas and coffee cans planted with flowers. The neighbothood lies within gentrification distance of USC, which grows a few blocks to the west.
|Jessica Ceballos Campbell|
The gallery entrance is at the wide end of a long industrial building. Entering the vestibule, visitors ascend a few steps to the living room, then pass to the main gallery. Paintings and sculpture line the way. In the living room, people detour to take a glass of sangria and eat some of Albie Preciado’s delectable baked goods. Preciado is the unofficial official baker of La Palabra at Highland Park’s Avenue 50 Studio across town.
Warehouse architecture creates a vast open space for the main gallery. Overhead looks like a twenty-foot ceiling spanned by massive joists. The exhibition space features 4 walls surrounding seating for 50. The audience will be facing a spotlighted area in front of the flat white back wall panels. A massive public address speaker sits atop a sturdy support. Amplification against the open ceiling is necessary and it is generous of poet John Martinez to contribute the time and equipment. Singer Jurni Rayne would have been stymied had Martinez not showed with the amp and cables for her guitar.
Infelicitously, the speaker stand blocks access to a photograph titled “La Llorona In L.A.” As matters unfolded, that was a ni modo; a collector took the foto home with her, so the sound apparatus didn’t interfere too much.
The evening’s lineup is an object lesson on rewards of diversity. The evening includes poets, a jarocho singer, a torch singer, a spoken word duo, a rock band. There are Chicanas, Pinays, Armenian, and Black artists at the mic. A similar diversity occupies the walls.
The final act of diversity awaits on the drive to the 110 Freeway from Maple Street. Parked along the side streets, men sit in pickup trucks, quietly getting ready to bed down for the night. Lines of people move from shadow into the shadowy lighting of an empty lot where cooks work a half-drum barbeque, white banners and handwritten signs call out the day’s specials and regular items. A few blocks up the street, there’s another food tianguis. None play the music loud. Ten o’clock manners, and better not to attract attention. They occupy small pools of light against darkened blocks of dimly-lighted streets. It’s impossible not to see all the young, hungry plebe.
|Steady: Eddy M. Gana Jr. and Stephanie Sajor|
Pilipino activists for Pinoy Pinay causes. They perform an amalgam of narrative fused with spoken word styling.
Unrestrained expression was the point of the evening. There was no restraint when the evening closed with The Bloody Gypsys. With poet Iris de Anda on bass, the band drives a hard beat that penetrates a listener’s flesh. Its Spanish and English spoken word songs deserve attention. In their third public performance, that attention is sure to arrive.
It is a night for poetry, for the real facts of our existence. Here. Now. No lipservice, no portavoz in a thousand-dollar frock filtering the conversation. It is an evening of the truths only Poetry expresses. CIELO Galley tonight is a no alternative facts zone.
Each writer speaks with personal insight laced with inherently political nuances. Without reciting a word, each personifies the most essential fact of Resist: being me is an act of resistance.
Names emerge as a sub-theme from the readings of F. Douglas Brown and Shahé Mankerian. Brown exploring expectations and irritations born of carrying a famous name like his, Fredrick Douglas. With good humor, Mankerian shares a lament raza poets have explored, how anglos mangle a name like his, Shahé.
|Luivette Resto, Karineh Mahdessian|
Karineh Mahdessian arrived in mid-performance. She had been across town receiving an AVEST award, honoring women in the arts. Click here for information on AVEST.
At the intersection of cultural fusion and resistance, CIELO Galleries/Studios is set to become a new "go-to" place for raza art and readings, and for writing from the gut of the city, where black brown pacific asian diversity rises to resist. Find CIELO on your computer maps and be alert for upcoming events via Facebook and La Bloga.
|Iris de Anda was invited to read from her collection "Codeswitch" as an introduction to The Bloody Gyspies|
|The Bloody Gypsys|
Luivette Resto set the tone for the evening with her reading of Martín Espada’s "The Meaning of the Shovel,” with its ending,
I dig because I have hauled garbage
and pumped gas and cut paper
and sold encyclopedias door to door.
I dig, digging until the passport
in my back pocket saturates with dirt,
because here I work for nothing
and for everything.
Understanding “dig” as “write and read poetry”, it's clear the evening’s objective was attained. "Alternative Facts: People of Color Living in White Tides" at CIELO Galleries/Studios, achieved everything that needed doing on an early June evening, a celebration of poetry, art, music, and much more, of commitment, diversity, and unrestrained voices.
This is what Resist! looks like.
|Luivette Resto and Lilly Flor del Valle bid farewell|
Few squash dishes offer the satisfaction of old-fashioned calabacitas. Fry with onions, garlic, and tomato. Add water and cheese. Stir and serve on the side of a chuleta.
When a hearty main course is the goal, green and gold casserole hits the spot.
The Gluten-free Chicano picked one gold zucchini and two green ones then went to the store to pick up some cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, ground beef. He had on hand the egg, cayenne, paprika, black pepper, gruyere and sharp cheddar cheeses.
1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta
Dried parmesan cheese
½ lb ground beef - skip this for a vegetarian alternative. add more mozzarella and cheddar.
¾ lb sharp cheddar, grated
12 thin slices mozzarella
6 thin slices gruyere
Heat oven to 375º
Prepare a frying pan with non-stick spray.
Prepare a baking dish with non-stick spray.
Slice the squash thinly. Not thicker than ¼" thick.
Mince three teeth garlic and ½ small onion. Chop ¼ bell pepper finely.
In a deep bowl, beat an egg to a yellow froth.
Over medium heat wilt the onion and garlic. Add the bell pepper. Add a splash coconut oil or olive oil if desired.
Add the meat and stir to break up and mix the vegetables well.
Season with salt, coarsely ground black pepper, cayenne powder, ground paprika.
When meat is brown, toss in the zucchini and stir for a few minutes. Turn off flame and let rest.
Mix the cottage cheese into the beaten egg. Add several thin slices of Mozzarella. Shake in generous amounts of dried Parmesan. Stir it all together.
Pour the meat mixture into the prepared casserole dish. A pie pan, a loaf pan works.
Cover with the cheese mixture.
Cover the top with thinly sliced cheeses. Dust the top with Parmesan cheese.
Put the baking dish on a cookie sheet and slide into the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is a rich crusty brown.
Plant a garden, gente. Cook your own food. Check the ingredients religiously. Really, that's among the few ways to assure a gluten-free meal.
Mexican Film Festival in El Lay
UNAM-LA sponsors this event in various venues around town. Per UNAM-LA's announcement, "The festival takes place in various venues in Downtown LA, including Regal Cinemas LA LIVE, Cinepolis Pico Rivera and LA Plaza De Cultura Y Artes.
The festival is divided into 5 sections:
México Ahora – The majority of the festivals programing is comprised in this section. México Ahora features the best of Mexican film released in recent year and it covers every genre of film. These films will make us laugh, cry and reflect.
Nocturno –This section presents a sampling of the best horror films being produced in Mexico. These films will either scare us or introduce us to a world of pain and suffering – physically or mentally.
Documental –Watch real life stories unfold in front of you, often with more drama than any fiction could provide.
Hola Niños – In Mexico, animated films have grown in production and success, as of today, some of the biggest box office hits in Mexico are animations. And in Los Angeles, we know the importance of maintaining a close connection to our roots. This section provides a little cheer for the young ones allowing them to experience films in their native language. This section looks to show the best of Mexico’s animated films.
Nuevas Voces – The future of Mexican cinematography is being written, shot and produced every day. Every year there are new directors releasing their films, and as a festival, we want to help these new directors debut their first work. The discovery of new talent starts here.
For details click here to visit the ticketing website.
Ultima, the Opera Comes to Life In June